In Silverstag, each companion has three abilities that are unlocked at levels 5, 12 and 20. Like skills, abilities can generally be divided into personal benefit and party benefit, and most companion abilities are drawn from the same list the player chooses from and perform identically.

Under each companion's entry is some advice about equipment and how to use them in the field. If leveled to their strengths, most of them don't have much ability in combat. Because of that, most should be given a crossbow and kept in the foot archer division to protect them. You may also want to give your companions saddle horses early on or when traveling with a small party to improve your speed on the map. You can order any division to dismount once you're in the field (2>F2>F6), so you can still give mounted companions heavy crossbows and just tell the archer division to dismount at the start of each battle. That can also be useful for stray horse archer units you might pick up from prisoner pools or whatever, if you don't have a full division for them.

(Check out the article on skills and attributes over at the general Mount&Blade wiki if you don't understand how the leveling system works, or what a particular stat does)

MARNID (Likes Borscha, dislikes Alayen & Baheshtur)

Quick Study - Cargomaster - Administrator

Marnid is the best Quartermaster. His Cargomaster ability grants higher prices for items he sells based on his Persuasion skill, and increases the gold merchants have to barter with based on Trade. Level CHA for Persuasion, Trade, and Leadership, in that order. Read the INT book to round up to 12, and get AGI to 9 for a third Weapon Master point. Through Quick Study, he will gain extra experience based on INT, and can read books more quickly than most. Administrator provides various buffs when he's assigned as a Castle Steward or Captain of the Guard.

NIZAR (Likes Matheld, dislikes Alayen & Firentis)

Inspiring - Watchful Eye - Useful Contacts

Nizar is the best Gaoler, although this doesn't really kick in until level 12. He begins with decent combat skills that are beyond his stats, so don’t bother adding to STR and AGI. Level CHA for Prisoner Management, Persuasion, and Trade, and put any spare points into Leadership for the morale boost. Useful Contacts improves his abilities as a Gaoler, and also reduces chances of being discovered when sneaking into a town or castle.

KATRIN (Likes Bunduk, dislikes Firentis & Baheshtur)

Supply Runner - Chef - Efficient

Katrin is the best Storekeeper. She starts with an amazing 7 in Inventory Management which makes it easy to store vast amounts of food at a time, and her Chef ability increases the coverage of food by a static 25% with a morale bonus improvement based on her Trade skill. Level CHA for Trade, and also Leadership (For her Efficient ability, gives various buffs based on INT/Leadership when she's assigned as a castle steward). If you want to make full use of her Supply Runner ability, get AGl/Athletics up to 15/5, with extras going into Weapon Master. Rounding STR up is not needed since she starts with 3 Ironflesh already, unless it gets you a good piece of equipment.

ALAYEN (Noble; Likes Ymira, dislikes Nizar & Marnid)

Blademaster - Commanding Presence - Tactician

Each of Alayen's three abilities draws upon three skills, under different attributes, so they can't all be put to their full use. The best ability to focus on is probably Tactician, because the required investment in the attribute/skill pair provides 5 leftover points instead of 2 for a similar combat value. Level INT/Tactics; the extra points can be used to make him a secondary Doctor or Scout, or to round up his combat skills/Leadership for his other abilities. Alternatively, you could build him simply as a AGL/Weapon Master/Riding light cavalry unit and ignore his two troop benefit abilities entirely, or level just CHA/Leadership for Commanding Presence. Alayen should always be given a weapon that deals cutting damage, to take advantage of Blademaster.

BAHESHTUR (Noble; Likes Rolf, dislikes Katrin & Marnid)

Hunter - Sharpshooter - Master Archer

Baheshtur is fairly useful. Hunter is good, but not worth maxing INT for. I suggest rounding up to 12 to get Tracking to 4. You might consider making him your Tracker/Pathfinder/Spotter and really pumping INT, but I consider him too good of an archer for that, and there are weaker companions that can fill those roles. Focus on AGl/Weapon Master and either Riding/Horse Archery or Athletics and general combat skills, depending on whether you intend to use him as a light foot archer or a cavalry archer. As a cavalry archer, he can certainly do well, and you'll have to invest in AGl anyway, but he'll have an easier time receiving troop benefits from nearby allies as a foot archer. A good set of equipment for him would be a Khergit Bow, Lg. Bag of Khergit/Broadhead Arrows x2, and a 2h Sabre, whether on foot or on a horse.

FIRENTIS (Noble; Likes Jeremus, dislikes Katrin & Nizar)

Hardy - Indomitable - Fortitude

Firentis is a decent fighter with no leadership or utility skills. His abilities lend themselves to a heavily armored Infantry unit, because a lower AGI will penalize Riding far more than Athletics. Level STR, prioritizing Ironflesh. Don’t neglect AGI entirely; the starting 12 is respectable early on, but eventually it should get to at least 15 to keep up with Weapon Master. I prefer two-hand weapons or pole-arms since he is disposable, and a few points in power throw.

ARTIMENNER (Likes Lezalit, dislikes Klethi & Jeremus)

Shield Basher - Tactician - Engineer

The combination of Tactician and Engineer make Artimenner's primary attribute INT, while Engineer provides bonuses to crossbows based on Weapon Master (AGl) and improves his capacity as a Castle Steward based on his Engineer & Trade skills. Since you only need two of the six INT skills provided by pumping INT, consider making him a doctor or a scout, or leveling Trainer to add to the daily xp. He's probably best used either as a crossbowman, to protect the utility of his party skills & improve his crossbow skills before level 20, or as a medium-armored infantry unit, if you want to make us of his Shield Basher and Tactician abilities.

LEZALIT (Noble; Likes Artimenner, dislikes Ymira & Bunduk)

Fortitude - Tactician - Siege General

Lezalit is the best Captain of the Guard. His Siege General ability might not immediately seem powerful, as it does not display for you what it does during a siege, but it has no range limitation so every defending troop receives all of his powerful enhancements. Round CHA up to 9 for a third Leadership as you approach level 20, and post him in a key location. More generally, INT/Tactics are his main focus, but you may as well level his Engineer, Trainer, or scout/doctor skills with the spare skill points. Decent combat skills; can be used in any division, but best as medium infantry or as a crossbow commander.

BORCHA (Likes Marnid, dislikes Deshavi & Klethi)

Nimble - Scavenger - Useful Contacts

Borcha's first two abilities are based on his raw AGl and on the level of his Looting skill, which is governed by AGl. Since he will be needing AGl investment, you may as well put points into other AGl skills, and doing so can take him in a few different directions based on how you want to use him in your army. A good, straightforward option is to put the extra points into Riding and Weapon Master, and kit him out as a khergit-style armored lancer since he can encumber better than most companions. He could also be used effectively as some type of archer, although if you want to give him a decent bow he'll need a few points in Power Draw. His last ability allows him to fill a party role a bit more effectively, but unless you're willing to invest heavily in CHA skills he doesn't have at the start, he's not going to be great at any of them. You may also want to invest in INT/scout skills after AGl is maxed, which will also help to round off his other skills through the extra points.

MATHELD (Noble; Likes Nizar, dislikes Jeremus & Ymira)

Berserker - Boundless Endurance - Bloodlust

Pure warrior. No skills to help with ENC, so manage weight wisely as she increases in STR. Pump STR, but keep AGI respectable to keep up with Weapon master. Give her the best two-hander you can find, and a pack full of javelins. Pump Ironflesh and note that she gains damage as she loses health.

ROLF (Noble; Likes Baheshtur, dislikes Deshavi & Bunduk1

Hardy - Endurance - Commanding Presence

Rolf is a warrior with a benefit to nearby troops via Commanding Presence. He could go Cavalry or Infantry. I prefer the latter, because Infantry tend to fight cohesively, whereas Cavalry lose cohesion after the first charge. Unlike Matheld, I like him to have a shield even though he is somewhat suited to two-handers, to keep him alive and make optimal use of his troop benefit. Focus on STR, but keep AGl respectable. Disregard CHA – put one extra point into Leadership then read a book to get to 4.

KLETHI Scavenger Poisoned Weapons Sharpshooter Pump AGI and looting for Klethi. Give her a crossbow and keep her with the foot archers. Her initial three in Power Throw is tempting, but disregard it as she is not a STR build.

JEREMUS Quick Study N/A Administrator Jeremus begins set up as a doctor. Put extra points into Training and Leadership in anticipation of his future capabilities as a steward. Crossbow, keep him back. No horse. No limit on armor.

YMIRA Inspiring Quick Study Administrator Ymira is still a blank slate character, but her Silverstag abilities don’t lend themselves to her being much of a fighter. Her role for me is a doctor of choice over Jeremus. Put a couple points into CHA and use books to round up to four Leadership for its morale bonus.

BUNDUK Prior to 0.26: Fortitude Boundless Endurance N/A Bunduk’s abilities lend themselves to any combat role, although light/medium Infantry benefits from them most. They are not driven by any attribute. He does not get any help with ENC, so manage his weight. I personally like him as a medium armored two-handed heavy hitter on foot. He brings no party skills to the table, so I don’t care if he gets knocked out.

After 0.26: Rapid Reload Boundless Endurance Firing Captain Bunduk loses fortitude, but gains a pair of skills that makes him more useful as a crossbowman or firearms user. If you have a lot of crossbow units, give him one as well and pump leadership. Otherwise, he still has his sprinting boost so consider keeping him as infantry.

DESHAVI Trailblazer Sharpshooter Master Archer I keep Deshavi around even under a morale penalty as passive boost to path-finding. She eventually comes into her own as a powerful archer on par with Nissa, but it takes her longer to get there. Kit her out as a light archer, focusing on AGI and Weapon Master.

Group Choices Nissa should be taken as she is not plugged into the “like/dislike” circles. As a reminder for an agreeable party, select one group from each circle [S1, S2; B1, B2], where: •   S1 = Alayen, Firentis, Baheshtur •   S2 = Nizar, Katrin, Marnid •   B1 = Borcha, Artimenner, Matheld, Lezalit, Rolf •   B2 = Klethi, Jeremus, Ymira, Bunduk, Deshavi

The royals are all of S1 (Alayen, Firentis, Baheshtur), plus three from B1 (Rolf, Lezalit, Matheld). All of the best party role companions are contained in S2, which I consider a must-have in Silverstag. Neither of the B groups contain any must-haves, but I gravitate toward B1 largely for aesthetics. I tack on Baheshtur for Hunting, and Deshavi for Trailblazing, and just suffer the disagreements. Baheshtur likes Rolf, although Deshavi likes nobody in my choice. She hasn’t bailed yet, but I won’t be sad if she does.